Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel (August 19, 1883 – January 10, 1971) was a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand. She was the only fashion designer to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century. Along with Paul Poiret, Chanel is credited with liberating women from the constraints of the corseted silhouette and popularizing the acceptance of a sportive, casual chic as the feminine standard in the post-World War I era. A prolific fashion creator, Chanel’s influence extended beyond couture clothing; her design aesthetic was realized in jewelry, handbags, and fragrance. Her signature scent,Chanel No. 5 became an iconic product, one irrevocably identified with The House of Chanel.
A woman of French peasant stock, convent bred, Chanel adhered to one constant in her life—a determination to rise above her humble origins. Her indefatigable energy, and talent in her chosen métier coupled to ultimately achieve both the business success and social prominence she had so striven to realize. Her professional life brought her in contact with the upper echelons of society and personages noteworthy in the arts. She herself became an art patron, supplying funds to support individual artists and their work.
A contradictory personality, a highly competitive, driven opportunist, Chanel’s ambition led her to form misplaced alliances and enter into questionable associations. A controversial figure, her personal affiliations, particularly during the World War II German occupation of France, have generated controversy around her reputation, clouding the very real contributions she made to the world of fashion.
"Throughout..her life she would work unremittingly as both craftsman and business woman, imposing her personal conception of the art of dressing upon an ever-increasing clientele."